DES MOINES, Iowa — Thousands of high school students are expected to pack the Varied Industries Building at the state fairgrounds to get hands on experience with different trade working careers at the Build My Future event Wednesday.
The Home Builder’s Association said finding employees for construction work is extremely tough right now. That’s why they are reaching out to high school students to teach them something they’ve likely never experienced before.
“They’ve pulled the shop classes out of a lot of schools, we’re trying to get them reintroduced, maybe a generation ago or two generations ago they would have had welding, small engines, carpentry at school and a lot of schools don’t have that anymore,” Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines Executive Officer Dan Knoup said.
At this event, students can lay brick, pour concrete, operate a crane and learn about the different career paths of construction.
“It’s not a union or a non-union event, we don’t drive them toward bridge building or skyscraper building or remodeling, we want them to really find what they’re passionate and excited about and then the rest will take care of itself,” Knoup said.
Dozens of vendors set up their booths in the Varied Industries building. Booths for jobs like carpenters, iron workers, plumbers and roofers. Every company at the event follows the structure of earn while you learn, so they will pay to get people trained. And as technology advances, construction will advance, so there is still a lot of learning outside of a college setting.
“We’re not anti-college, college is great for a lot of purposes and a lot of students but when students go there, 25% of them don’t return every year, there’s debt and there’s no future so we’re just trying to provide an option for them,” Knoup said.
The event is trying to change the opinion that college is the only answer.
“The challenge we have is the parents, because all the parents certainly want Johnny and Suzie to go to college, and I understand that completely, what we’re here to show them is that there is another way, maybe it’s another way to pay for college, maybe it’s a career after college, maybe it’s instead of college, all of those are viable but we feel like they are not getting that message currently,” Knoup said.
The free event is in the Varied Industries Building at the State Fairgrounds.
It is from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and if you are not already RSVPed, they ask you to come between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. with a parent if you are under 18.